Teacher at Lincoln Marti School in Miami Beach arrested on child abuse charges

Clara Quintero-Gonzalez, 54, accused of hitting multiple children

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – A teacher at the Lincoln Marti School in Miami Beach was arrested Thursday for hitting multiple children inside her class, police said.

Clara Quintero-Gonzalez, 54, faces three counts of child abuse with no great bodily harm and one count of aggravated child abuse with great bodily harm.

According to a Miami Beach police incident report, Laura Pantano, 35, was picking up her daughter Aug. 25 from the Lincoln Marti School at 1700 Jefferson Ave. when she saw a teacher grabbing a 3-year-old boy by his shoulder and shaking the student back and forth.

Police said Pantano also saw Quintero-Gonzalez slap the child across both sides of his face.

Pantano ran up to the classroom and confronted the teacher, authorities said. They said an argument ensued and police were called.

Police said the school director, Yanet Perez, was at the day care but told police that she did not see the incident because she was attending to another child.

Police said employees at the day care told them that the surveillance cameras do not have the capacity to record and work only as a live feed.

However, detectives said the cameras do in fact record, and said that they saw Quintero-Gonzalez striking multiple children.

According to an arrest report, the teacher punched a 2-year-old's right arm, and attempted to strike the child three additional times, but missed once before the boy recoiled his arm. 

Police said she then struck him again a short time later in a "karate chop-type manner."

"Both incidents were without provocation," the report said.

Detectives said Quintero-Gonzalez denied hitting the boy, even though she watched the video in front of detectives.

Detectives said they saw the teacher striking a 3-year-old student without provocation on the leg, but said that she claimed in Spanish that "it was nothing."

In a third incident, Quintero-Gonzalez is seen putting her face up against a 3-year-old boy's ear. When he puts his hand up and moves away from the suspect, she slaps his arm twice, shakes him, turns him in his chair and slaps him across the face, police said.

She also slapped his hands three times each, police said.

Detectives said Quintero-Gonzalez continued to deny that she struck the child after watching the surveillance video in front of detectives.

In a fourth incident, Quintero-Gonzalez is accused of striking a 2-year-old child in the face with her elbow and then slapping the child in the right hand.

Again, the teacher denied abusing the child and said in Spanish that "it was nothing," the report said. 

"The pulling, the shoving, the smacking -- that's all completely unacceptable, especially for a teacher," Miami Beach police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez said.

Pantano said detectives told her that they were able to recover 10 minutes of surveillance video, but are hoping to recover more in case other children suffered at the hands of Quintero-Gonzalez or any other teacher at the school.

"This is for me a day to remember and closes an ugly chapter in my life," Pantano wrote on Facebook. "My thanks go to the police department and the news reporters that worked hard on this case and gave the right attention to this awful matter."

Quintero-Gonzalez was expected to appear Friday in bond court and has been suspended from his position at the school. 

School officials released a statement Thursday saying they are cooperating with the criminal investigation.

"Since its founding in 1968, the safety of the children in our care has been, and will continue to be, an overarching concern," the statement read in part. "Lincoln-Marti has an established policy prohibiting corporal punishment."

"Our detectives will continue to work on this case to ensure justice is given to these four children," Rodriguez said.

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